The relationship between Native Americans and colonists was a cruel and unjust one. We first see a seemingly peaceful relationship with John Smith simply observing and taking notes of the behavior and lifestyle of the Powhatans (Document A). In document D, we see the beginnings of a toxic relationship with Native Americans and settlers as the settlers are instructed by their investors (the Virginia company) to handle anything that may be a threat and to not submit to the demands of the Native Americans. Lastly, we see the brutal combat initiated by both the Native Americans and settlers in documents B and C.
We first see a seemingly peaceful relationship with John Smith simply observing and taking notes about the the behavior and lifestyle of the Powhatans (Document A). These observations were made by an English explorer whose goal was to relay information about nearby ethnic groups to future settlers and explorers. This may have not been intended to be used to create a strategical advantage in combat by understanding their livelihood, but it could have very well been used for that. The document provides those gaining the information, the knowledge of how the tribe survives day-to-day: what foods they need/get, how they get such foods, their shelter, etc. We understand that the tensions between Native Americans are still present, as referenced in document D, where the company instructs colonists to be on the defensive and remove the natives if necessary (1609), so this may have very well been written for an advantage in warfare. However, without making any assumptions, we can deduct the document was written at a time of peace and was simply to inform colonists. (USED AUTHOR, AUDIENCE, PURPOSE, AND CONTEXT)
In document D, we see the beginnings of a toxic relationship with Native Americans and settlers, as the settlers are instructed by their investors (the Virginia company) to handle anything that may be a threat and to not submit to the demands of the Native Americans. This letter was sent from the Virginia company and like any other company their priority is money. The Virginia company painted the natives as being a possible obstacle or threat from their goal of expansion westward and instructed the colonists to remove/harm them if necessary. This shows that companies had little empathy towards people who would hinder their chances at a profit, going so far as to exterminate them if needed. This letter was meant to serve as a warning to the colonists and better secure the company’s profits. Therefore, Native Americans and settlers had an unhealthy relationship, where money was placed above life and basic empathy. (author, purpose, audience, no context)
Lastly, we see the brutal combat initiated by both the Native Americans and settlers in documents B and C. Document C is an illustration from a Swedish engraver (Mattheus Merian). Although he is not an English colonist, him being European would still influence him in siding with the English rather than the natives. His art depicts the natives as being savages, brutally killing the innocent colonists. This may be partly true, but is unlikely all of it (both natives and colonists had to contribute to bring about an ongoing conflict, otherwise it would have been a quick submission). This art was likely directed towards Europeans and colonists as some sort of fear mongering campaign. By painting all natives as savages, colonists and European governments would disregard their lives and view them only as obstacles which would only fuel the expansion westward. Document B, shows the plans of John Martin, a Jamestown councilman, on how they should subjugate the Powhatans. This was written in 1622, which was the year of the Indian massacre, illustrated in document C. With him being a councilman and due to the recent attack, this was likely written as a way to achieve revenge and was likely directed towards fellow members of the council or a messenger who would instruct the colonists to carry out the plan of subjugation. Therefore this depicts the relationship of natives and settlers as being hostile with the initiation of intense combat. (authors, purpose, audience, outside info)
Conclusively, the relationship between settlers and natives was a volatile and hostile one. To synthesize, with the demand of land and a growing population in the West, companies were tasked with the expansion westward for both profit and land. They were instructed to do such task within an allotted time frame and likely placed profit/expansion as the key priority, thus resulting in the abuse of the native population. This would lead to a series of conflicts between natives and colonists, as well as the dramatic fall in the native population due to both combat and disease the colonists brought with them. This valuable land would begin the formation of what is the present day United States.